The Three R’s of Being a Virtual School Learning Coach
Although “reading, (w)riting, and ’rithmetic” still represent high priorities in education, the parents of virtual school students need to become familiar with a completely different set of the “three R’s.” Instead of focusing primarily on the content their children will study, newly enrolled virtual school parents serve as Learning Coaches and concentrate on providing the framework that will help learning occur. The elements of this framework—which provide a foundation for success as a Learning Coach—are Role, Routine, and Resources.
The Role of Learning Coach
Whether you’re considering virtual school or you’ve already enrolled your child, it’s important to understand the important role you’ll fulfill and the duties you’ll perform as your child’s Learning Coach. You’ll also want to understand how your role will change as your child grows up. Depending on the age of the child or children in the family, Learning Coaches should be prepared to:
- Ensure regular student attendance
- Verify that lessons and assessments are completed
- Assist with some lessons
- Monitor student progress, comprehension, and grades
- Refer child to teacher as needed
- Communicate frequently with the teacher
- Minimize distractions and help kids stay on task
- Encourage positive organization and study skills
- Assist with time and project management
Becoming a “superstar” Learning Coach does take some time and effort—so be patient with yourself! After adjusting to this exciting role, most parents find their involvement in their children’s virtual schooling to be very rewarding.
Establishing a Routine
Although flexibility is one of the strengths of virtual schooling, children do benefit from having structure in their lives. Establishing a routine for your school days will help you and your student move through your daily schedule without surprises or arguments. You’ll want to consider factors such as:
- Regularly scheduled virtual classroom sessions
- Physical needs, including mealtimes and exercise
- Your child’s attention span, natural tendencies, and preferences
- Recurring family commitments and activities
By setting and clearly communicating an agreed-upon schedule and daily expectations, you can help your children stay on track and focused on learning!
Finding Helpful Resources
Throughout the school year, your child’s teacher is your best resource for many situations, so be sure to contact him or her regularly. And don’t forget that, like a bricks-and-mortar school, an online school has other helpful people on staff to assist families, including school counselors and principals.
A high-quality virtual school will also provide you with plenty of great nonhuman resources to help you accomplish the tasks of a Learning Coach. Here are some examples of resources online schools may provide to assist you in getting started:
- Orientation materials for parent and students
- School handbook containing policies and procedures
- Tips for getting started in the virtual classroom
- Training in using the school’s education management system
- Access to a virtual library or blog that contains helpful hints
- Links to parent message boards for support and networking
- Links to school Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube pages
Another benefit of online school that parents tend to overlook is that the Internet connects to everything you and your student need. This means that your student will never be unable to complete an assignment because of misplacing a worksheet or text—and you can be knowledgeable about the material your child is studying. You’re connected 24 hours per day to all of your child’s learning materials and information, which may include:
- Curriculum texts and materials
- Lesson plans and assessments
- Student grade book
- Scheduling and planning tools
- Interactive instructional tools for students
- Free access to leading educational content online
- Recommended safe links for student research
While this may seem like a lot to learn, the effort you make will pay off, and it will all become second nature soon! Keep in mind that your patience, encouragement, and daily involvement can transform your child’s education—and also strengthen your family’s bonds. And with a firm grasp of the three R’s of being a Learning Coach, you’re headed in the right direction to help your child make a strong start virtual school.